After undergoing a mastectomy on one side, a patient may choose to have surgery on the opposite breast to improve breast symmetry. Once a patient has healed from her initial mastectomy and reconstruction, she can undergo this surgery at the same time as any secondary or revision procedure on the reconstructed breast. These procedures are typically done after the reconstructed breast has fully healed, as the final shape, volume, and profile of the reconstructed breast may not be clear until several months after the healing process is complete.
Types of procedures
- Breast reduction: Improves symmetry if the existing breast is significantly larger than the reconstructed breast. The reduced breast volume may also be lifted to provide a more symmetrical, youthful shape.
- Breast lift: Corrects an existing breast that sags lower than the reconstructed breast. If needed, a breast implant can be added at the time of breast lift surgery in order to increase breast volume.
- Breast augmentation: Improves symmetry for patients who have undergone implant reconstruction by adding an implant to the existing breast. This procedure can also be done at the same time as a breast lift.
- Good for patients seeking to improve breast symmetry
- Typically performed on an outpatient basis
- Focus is on improving proportion of skin and tissue volume
- Usually occurs several months after reconstructed breast has fully healed
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may delay timing
Risks & Benefits
Risks of surgery on the opposite breast depend on what procedure is being done. These are outpatient procedures and patients can expect to resume most regular activities after a short recovery period.
With the focus on symmetry, this surgery offers more natural-looking results with improved breast contour.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance cover the cost of revision surgery on the opposite breast even if there is no cancer in that breast?
Yes. The Federal Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 mandates insurance coverage for any breast surgery, even when multiple procedures are needed. This means that any surgery on the opposite breast is covered by insurance, including breast enlargement with an implant, breast lift surgery, and breast reduction.
I am planning mastectomy and reconstruction on one side, but I want to have smaller breasts. Can I have a breast reduction on my healthy breast at the same time as my mastectomy and reconstruction?
Yes, it is possible to have revision surgery on your healthy breast at the same time as your mastectomy and reconstruction. However, breast shape can change during the months after surgery and additional revision surgery might be desired to maximize symmetry.